FROM THE TUSTIN NEWS, THURSDAY, JANUARY 18, 2001


THE DOC IS IN...

You can build your own personal web site

No one knows how many sites there are on the World Wide Web. Some estimates say that there are nearly two billion separate pages that we can visit. Of these, tens of millions belong to individuals who have created "personal web sites."

A personal web site is something that a person can create to display information that they believe might be of interest to others. Possibly they include pictures of family or trips that distant friends or relatives can view over the Internet. Sometimes they are resumes that hopefully someone will see and offer a job opportunity. There probably are as many reasons for personal web sites as there are people creating them.

When we sign up with an Internet Service Provider, as an inducement, almost all provide free space on their "computers in the sky" that we can use to store our own web creations. They offer enough space for many pages of information, lots of pictures and even sound or video clips. This service they provide is called "hosting."

Many Internet Service Providers even have tools that allow us to create simple personal pages. Earthlink has the "Click-n-Build" home page builder while AOL and other ISPs have their own systems. These allow us to build a few personal pages to get started. They are "canned" but still fun and we can be up and running in a matter of minutes.

If we want a more personalized creation, we can take advantage of the underlying language of the World Wide Web called HTML. This stands for HyperText Markup Language and represents the computer code which makes web pages work. Fortunately a lot of creativity can be had by using just a few simple commands. A good starting reference is the Visual Quickstart Guide from Peachpit Press titled "HTML for the World Wide Web."

Of course, many software publishers have automated tools like Microsoft's "FrontPage" which allow us to create on the screen and the software writes the HTML for us. Even Microsoft Word 2000 can be used to create web pages.

Fortunately we can create and test our personal web pages on our own computers. We can write the simple code or use an automated program and then view our creation on our own web browser. We can see if we look just like CNN or even better.

Once we have finished our masterpiece, we need to send it to the computer in the sky. Sometimes we need a file transfer program to do this, other times we can "publish" automatically. In any case, our personal web pages just are computer files that reside on a special computer that is provided by our Internet Service Provider.

I have a personal web site that is hosted free by Netcom, my Internet Service Provider. The address of this site is http://pw2.netcom.com/~arholub/index.html. This seems long and complicated, but is typical of how free sites are addressed. Incidentally, the symbol before the "arholub" is called a "tilde" and is common in personal web addresses (and crossword puzzles). It can be found on the upper left hand key on your keyboard.

Anyway, personal web pages are simple to create and lots of fun. To get started you can go to your current Internet Service Provider's web page and sign up. This gets you an address and free space. Then you can use their tools or templates. If you are more adventuresome, try writing your own HTML code.

If you are interested, let me know and possibly we can offer a class on web page construction.

Of course, you can visit the 9 a.m. Friday morning "Coffee and Computers" at the Tustin Area Senior Center and bring your web page or other computer questions.

In the meantime, keep the neurons happy, the synapses snapping and enjoy computing.

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Dr. Art Holub is a long time resident of Tustin and teaches computer and Internet courses at the Tustin Area Senior Center and the Tustin Adult School. Visit his web site at: www.arholub.com. This column is written to address the computer adventures and concerns of older adults. If you have comments, questions or suggestions for future columns, Email HIM at: doc@arholub.com.


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